Are Eggs Good After the Sell By Date?

Many people wonder if eggs are safe to eat after the sell-by date printed on the carton. While it’s always important to follow food safety guidelines, eggs can often be enjoyed a few weeks after the sell-by date. As a general rule, eggs are typically safe to eat for up to three to five weeks past the sell-by date as long as they have been stored properly in the refrigerator.

The best way to test the freshness of an egg is to perform a simple float test. Simply place the egg in a bowl of water – if it sinks to the bottom and lies flat on its side, it’s fresh. If it stands upright on the bottom or floats to the top, it’s best to discard it. Remember to always use your best judgment and if there are any signs of unusual smell, appearance, or texture, it’s better to throw the egg away.

Eggs are a versatile and nutrient-rich food that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. However, when it comes to purchasing and consuming eggs, many people are uncertain about the safety and quality of eggs that have passed their sell-by date. In this article, we will explore whether eggs are still good to eat after the sell-by date and provide some tips for determining the freshness and quality of eggs.

Sell By Date vs. Expiration Date

Before we delve into the topic, it’s important to understand the difference between the sell-by date and the expiration date on egg cartons. The sell-by date is the date by which the store should sell the eggs to ensure they are still fresh and of high quality. On the other hand, the expiration date is the date by which the eggs should be consumed for optimal freshness and safety.

It’s crucial to note that both the sell-by date and the expiration date are not federally regulated, meaning that different states and brands may have varying guidelines. In general, most eggs are considered safe to eat for 3-5 weeks after the sell-by date as long as they have been stored properly.

How to Determine the Freshness of Eggs

If you have eggs that have passed their sell-by date and are unsure about their freshness, there are a few simple tests you can perform to determine their quality:

1. The Float Test

To perform the float test, fill a bowl with water and carefully place the egg in it. If the egg sinks to the bottom and lies flat on its side, it is fresh and safe to eat. If it stands upright or floats to the top, it may be spoiled and should not be consumed.

2. The Sniff Test

Gently crack the egg into a clean bowl and give it a sniff. Fresh eggs have a neutral odor or may even have a slightly sweet smell. If the egg has a strong, foul smell, it is best to discard it as it is likely spoiled.

3. The Visual Inspection

Inspect the egg for any signs of cracks, leakage, or mold. A cracked or leaking egg should be discarded, as it can potentially harbor harmful bacteria. Moldy eggs should also be avoided, as mold growth can indicate spoilage.

Storing Eggs Properly

Proper storage is key to maintaining the freshness and quality of eggs, whether they are before or after the sell-by date. Here are some important tips for storing eggs:

1. Refrigeration

Eggs should be stored in the refrigerator, preferably in the main body of the refrigerator rather than the door. The temperature in the door tends to fluctuate more, which can affect the overall quality of the eggs.

2. Original Carton

Keep the eggs in their original carton rather than transferring them to an egg holder or storing them loose in the refrigerator. The carton helps protect the eggs from absorbing odors and flavors from other foods in the fridge.

3. Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Avoid exposing eggs to extreme temperatures, such as leaving them on the counter or in direct sunlight. Extreme heat or cold can cause bacteria to grow more rapidly, increasing the risk of spoilage.

4. Don’t Wash Eggs

Contrary to popular belief, eggs should not be washed before storage. Washing eggs removes the protective layer known as the cuticle, making them more susceptible to bacterial contamination. If the eggs are dirty, gently wipe them with a dry cloth before storing.

When to Discard Eggs

While eggs can often be safely consumed after the sell-by date, there are instances when it’s best to discard them:

1. Off Odor

If the eggs have a foul or unpleasant odor when cracked, they should be thrown away. This odor indicates the presence of harmful bacteria and potential spoilage.

2. Unusual Appearance

Eggs with unusual appearances, such as those with greenish yolks or strange textures, should not be consumed. These changes may indicate that the eggs have gone bad.

3. Cracks or Leaks

If the eggs have cracks or leaks, it’s important to discard them. Cracked eggs can provide a pathway for bacteria to enter, increasing the risk of contamination.

4. Overdue Eggs

If the eggs are significantly past their expiration date or have been stored improperly for an extended period, it is safest to discard them. The risk of bacterial growth and spoilage increases the longer eggs are stored.

The Bottom Line

Eggs can still be good to eat after the sell-by date as long as they have been stored properly and pass the freshness tests. However, it’s important to use your judgment and follow your senses when determining the quality of the eggs. If in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard any eggs that raise concerns. By following proper storage practices and performing simple tests, you can enjoy delicious and nutritious eggs even after the sell-by date.

It is generally safe to consume eggs for a short period after the sell-by date as long as they have been properly stored. However, it is important to carefully inspect the eggs for any signs of spoilage before consuming them. When in doubt, it is best to err on the side of caution and discard any eggs that may be expired or in question.

Leave a Comment